Deepwater Canyons 2012: Pathways to the Abyss: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Grandmom's Kitchen

    October 1, 2012  |  By Terry Connell

    October 1 Log

    The crew on the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster is well trained and quite accommodating. This is their home, but they make you feel like it is yours, too. There's a spirit of cooperation and hospitality here that permeates everything.

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  • Standing on the Roof

    September 30, 2012  |  By Esprit Heestand Saucier

    September 30 Log

    One of the things that I find captivating about the ocean is the idea that I’m standing (or in a boat floating) on the roof of another world.

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  • A Wild Place for Wildlife

    September 29, 2012  |  By Terry Connell

    September 29 Log

    For this mission, we are operating approximately 60 miles off the east coast of Virginia exploring the deep waters of the Norfolk Canyon. The kind of wildlife I expected to see at this location is the kind that lives in the ocean.

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  • Benthic Passion

    September 28, 2012  |  By Kirstin Meyer

    September 28 Log

    Imagine getting in your car and driving to the beach, but instead of stopping to gaze at the ocean, you keep driving straight into it. You drive across the sloping continental shelf, down the steep continental slope, all the way to the flat plains at the very bottom of the ocean. What would you see along the way? 

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  • BOEM and Shipwrecks – What's the Connection?

    September 27, 2012  |  By Jack Irion

    September 27 Log

    Why is the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) interested in shipwrecks off the Virginia Coast?

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  • Billy Mitchell Shipwrecks "Found"?!

    September 26, 2012  |  By Rod Mather

    September 26 Log

    As an archaeologist, finding a shipwreck is often a process rather than an event.  When can you say you have found it?

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  • Benthic Community Ecology of Canyons

    September 25, 2012  |  By Amanda Demopoulos

    September 25 Log

    We have had a very successful Leg 3, examining shipwrecks and canyon biology in Norfolk Canyon. For me, our productive sampling in Norfolk Canyon directly complements Leg 1 studies in Baltimore Canyon, facilitating direct comparisons of the benthic communities found between canyons.

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  • Shark Attack!

    September 24, 2012  |  By Terry Connell

    September 24 Log

    The morning Kraken II remotely operated vehicle (ROV) deployment was picture perfect. The crew of the ROV spent hours carefully documenting another of the ships sunk during the Billy Mitchell air bombing experiments. The ROV monitor showed a steady stream of incredible images of the wreck.

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  • Progress!!

    September 23, 2012  |  By Rod Mather

    September 23 Log

    Although weather and technical problems have worked against us this leg, the crew of NOAA Ship Nancy Foster has miraculously managed to put us back close to our original schedule. As a result, we have some notable successes to report.

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  • The Terminator

    September 22, 2012  |  By Terry Connell

    September 22 Log

    The rough start to this mission due to weather and issues with equipment that had delayed the science work by several days were seemingly behind us.

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  • You Are What You Eat...

    September 21, 2012  |  By Terry Connell

    September 21 Log

    Despite a late start to the day due to winch issues, yesterday was our first successful remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive. No shipwreck was found on this shallow-water dive, which mostly served to get the Kraken II ROV back in the water to work out any kinks. After bringing the ROV back on board, preparations were made for the night operations. On the schedule: Trawling.

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  • Sluicing for Gold?

    September 20, 2012  |  By Terry Connell

    September 20 Log

    Scientific gold, perhaps! I am sitting here in the "wet lab" of the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. It is 8 AM on Thursday morning. We have been on this mission for three full days now and have barely begun the science because of the weather.

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  • Mid-Atlantic Deepwater Canyons: Leg 3

    September 19, 2012  |  By Rod Mather

    September 19 Log

    Leg 3 of Continental Shelf Associates’ “Mid-Atlantic Deepwater Canyons“ study, supported by NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), got underway on September 17.

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  • Lophelia in the Canyons!

    September 13, 2012  |  By Sandra Brooke and Steve W. Ross

    September 13 Log

    The objective of our dive in Baltimore Canyon was to return to a flat plateau we had seen previously, which had dense colonies of Paramuricea, a target species for our octocoral geneticist, Dr. Scott France.

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  • Wrapping it up in Baltimore Canyon

    September 12, 2012  |  By Steve W. Ross and Sandra Brooke

    September 12 Log

    Today is our last dive in Baltimore Canyon and the next to last dive of this cruise leg. 

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  • Cups Ahoy!

    September 11, 2012  |  By Sandra Brooke

    September 11 Log

    Stony corals come in many shapes and sizes, from branching colonies that can form massive reefs, to tiny solitary or ‘cup’ corals that are only a few millimeters across.

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  • The Gold Standard

    September 10, 2012  |  By Scott France

    September 10 Log

    Somewhere in France locked up in a vault is a golf ball size block of metal - more specifically an alloy of platinum-iridium –that weighs* 1 kilogram (kg). Exactly 1 kg. In fact, it is the world standard for 1 kg. If there is a question about the accuracy of a scale, such as the one in your bathroom, use of this block would be the ultimate form of calibration: it is 1 kg and so a scale must be adjusted to match this weight.

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  • Brave New Worlds

    September 7, 2012  |  By Christina Kellogg

    September 7 Log

    From the perspective of a bacterium, each coral colony is a microbial world, with different landscapes and communities...

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  • Rough Start for Leg 2

    September 5, 2012  |  By Steve W. Ross and Sandra Brooke

    September 5 Log

    Actually, in terms of sea conditions, our second leg of this Deepwater Canyons expedition started with calm seas and light winds. Hurricane Leslie had other plans...

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  • End of Leg 1 (Two More to Go)

    By Steve W. Ross and Sandra Brooke

    Leg I Summary

    Overall, the first leg was a great success; we accomplished 11 ROV dives and over 150 stations from other operations (CTD casts, box cores, mono-cores). 

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  • Canyon Fishes

    August 27, 2012  |  By Steve W. Ross

    August 27 log

    The view available from the ROV cameras of the living fishes in their habitats is a unique perspective and provides invaluable information.

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  • Baltimore Cold Seeps Re-discovered!!

    August 26, 2012  |  By Sandra Brooke and Steve W. Ross

    August 26 log

    In the early 1980’s Dr. Barbara Hecker was lead scientist on an exploration cruise in Baltimore Canyon, using a towed camera to survey the seafloor. She made an interesting discovery!

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  • End of the Week Update

    August 24, 2012  |  By Sandra Brooke

    August 24 log

    We have seen some amazing things in the past few ROV dives including a bubblegum coral that was almost 15 feet tall, and patches of carnivorous brittlestars that were buried in the mud with their arms in the air ready to capture small squid and fish that come within their grasp.

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  • Canyon Productivity

    August 23, 2012  |  By Dr. Furu Mienis

    August 23 log

    Deepwater canyons, the rivers of the ocean, transport and redistribute sediments.

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  • Research Project

    August 22, 2012  |  By Craig Robertson

    August 22 log

    Craig Robertson, a Ph.D. candidate from Bangor University in the United Kingdom, carries out his doctoral studies project during this cruise. Discover what Craig is hoping to accomplish!

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  • Genetic Studies in the Deepwater Canyons

    August 21, 2012  |  By Katharine Coykendall

    August 21 log

    Studying genetic connectivity in deep sea communities is important from a management and conservation perspective.

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  • Energy Flow through Submarine Canyons

    August 20, 2012  |  By Dr. Gerard Duineveld

    August 20 log

    In recent times canyons can act as important pathways for transport of particles from continental shelves to deeper waters and the deep-sea.

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  • First Successful ROV day

    August 18, 2012  |  By Steve W. Ross

    August 18 log

    The ROV was loaded with seven tubes (quivers) to hold samples, a biobox with three chambers to keep collections cold, a coral holder, two water sampling bottles (Niskins), an instrument to measure water properties every second, two digital still cameras, and one high definition video camera.

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  • Busy Day Throwing Gear Overboard

    August 17, 2012  |  By Sandra Brooke

    August 17 log

    Our first real day of work at sea began in the early hours of this morning when we arrived at Norfolk canyon on a beautiful calm summer day. Our goals were to deploy two benthic landers (owned by our Dutch partners at NIOZ) and a mooring (owned by USGS) at different locations within the canyon axis. We deployed the first lander at the deeper end of the canyon at just over  1300m depth. 

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  • Microbial Architects

    August 16, 2012  |  By Christina Kellogg

    August 16 log

    I’ve heard people describe corals (especially the branchy ones) as ‘ecosystem architects’ – meaning that the corals create all kinds of habitats for other creatures – places to attach and hang into the current, little hidey holes inside, etc. And that’s true. But the REAL ecosystem architects are the microbes.

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